Titus 2:3-5

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Heart and Soul

I first started this blog as a new immigrant to the United States of America. I wanted a place to write about and record my journey as a new wife and new immigrant. In the process there are times when my faith has come across loud and clear. I felt that it was time to explain why that faith is so important to me, how it was formed, and what it means to my daily life. It is good to take time to look at where we have come from to know where we are heading.

My earliest memories of church, was being sent with my brother so we would have Sunday School. It was around the time my sister was born, so I would be 6 years old. Growing up in Scotland our local parish church was Presbyterian, Church of Scotland. It didn't take long before my parents were taking all of us to church as a family. And so it was part of our life from that point on. As a child I didn't think too much about it, it was just something we did on a Sunday. I enjoyed the Sunday School lessons, the singing in services, and the Saturday coffee mornings where we got cakes to eat.

It remained that way until I was 13 years old. Something I did, but didn't actually think too much about. Then our minister left. After several months we got a new minister. One of his first few sermons explained that going to church didn't make you a Christian. For the first time since I started going to church at the age of 6 I found out what it really means to be a Christian. It was a real defining moment to realise that at that point I was not a Christian, I was just someone who attended church. Now I already believed God was real. There was never a time I can remember that I didn't believe God was real. I also believed Jesus was real, but now knew that wasn't enough.

It was another 9 months before I was ready to take that final step of faith. As I went to bed one night I just knew heart and soul that it was now or never. I had to choose to accept that I was a sinner, that Jesus took the punishment for my sin by dying on the cross, and asking Him to be in control of my life from that point on. The next morning I woke up feeling so much lighter, like a heavy load had been taken from me. I now knew that if I were to die at that moment I could be confident I had a home in Heaven waiting for me. That was 25 years ago this week.

A lot has happened in those 25 years. My understanding of what it took to pay the penalty for my sin has broadened and deepened. I am more committed to my Lord and Saviour than even before. He was the only one who has even lived on this earth totally free from sin. He willingly stood in my place, taking my sin upon himself, so that I would not spend eternity separated from God. His death and coming back to life 3 days later is the reason why I will always have hope, always have peace and always have a place in the very presence of the thrice holy God. I am still a sinner. I was born a sinner. It is my very nature to sin. I am a wretched being indeed. Yet thanks be to God I am covered by the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made on my behalf, and on the behalf of all who are willing to accept it. It is only by grace that I stand as righteous in the throne room of God, and by His mercy I have been saved from the punishment that rightly belongs to me.

As the Easter season approaches, and hearts and minds are drawn to Calvary's cross, I stand ever thankful that I know the power of that amazing love shown by God himself in the form of the Son. As we look at the promises for salvation that were shown in Passover, and the accomplishment of that salvation on Calvary, may it fill our hearts with thanksgiving. For those who do not yet know the reality of that salvation, may this year, this Easter, be the time where it becomes real and personal to you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mythical Sleeping Babies

Mythical Sleeping Babies - its all about personality.

My darling husband and I both giggled the first time we heard the term "mythical sleeping babies" as we have been blessed to have two of them. I wish I could share our secrets to this success, but I can honestly say it isn't all about us. Sure there are things we do that have encouraged sleep, and I will share those below. But more importantly it is about their sleep personalities.

Both our boys appear to have their father's sleep personality. They wake up when day breaks. They nap when they get tired. They go to sleep when it gets dark. Rob is 46 and largely still follows this pattern. When he is at home all day (weekends, vacations etc) he will often have a nap in the middle of the day. Most often all Rob has to do is lift his feet off the floor, stretch out on the sofa, close his eyes and yes, he is sound asleep. I rather envy this ability to sleep any time and any place. I on the other hand take a long time to fall asleep, so naps don't happen unless I'm very ill. I will naturally stay up late and then sleep late. I take forever to actually wake up mentally too. My family never speak to me in the morning until I've been awake for at least an hour.

One thing Rob and I share though is that we like our own space when we sleep. We are not one of those couples who can fall asleep snuggled up to each other. When its time to go to sleep we both turn away from the other person and curl up on our own sides of the bed. It turns out that unsurprisingly both our boys are the same way. There was a large part of me that wanted to have snuggly babies. I like the idea of my baby sleeping next to me during the night so I don't have to get out of bed for middle of the night feeds. I also like the idea of night feeding as a benefit to both the baby and me. When Seth was born I tried having him in bed with me. Even as a newly born baby he didn't like the idea as much as I did. Sure he would fall asleep as I nursed him, but to stay asleep for more than 10 minutes he had to be put down, in his own space. I can tell you that having a newborn wake up after only 10 minutes of sleep makes for one very overtired baby (not to mention exhausted parents.) As much as I like the idea, so far with the children we have, co-sleeping has not worked for us.

What I have learned so far that the issue of sleep is different for each of us, both as babies and adults. Like so many of the "rules" of parenting it is never going to be a one size fits all. We are too unique for that. Instead the best success for us has come from parenting each child as best fits their personalities as well as ours. Sleep really is no different.

So what has worked for us:

1. The most important one by far for us has been to not allow them to get overtired. When it does happen it is always a recipe for disaster. My sons don't sleep well when they get this way. They will often wake up after only 20-30 minutes of sleep if they have gotten overtired before going to sleep. The saying "sleep begets sleep" is definitely true in our home.

2. Giving them their own space to sleep in. Just like us, our boys want and need their own space to have a good sleep. While other babies may prefer to sleep snuggled up to mama, in our experience it has been the opposite. I still dream of having a baby who wants me so much that they love to sleep on me, but so far the ones I have prefer some space, and like having their own crib.

3. Being home for most of their time. Just like their mama, these boys are home bodies. They like to be in familiar surroundings to sleep well. They just don't sleep as soundly or for as long when we are anywhere else. They like their own bed for sleep. This is also very true for naps, especially given that they won't nap on me past 8 weeks of age.

4. Routine. They both respond best to a steady routine. While we don't have set times for anything for the most part, we do have a reasonably predictable routine. It starts when the first one wakes up and goes from there. The only day our routine changes is Sunday, when we have church, and they have to change out some of the routine around the time of the church service.

I know many mamas of young children around the same ages as mine. I know from talking with these women that there are as many variations as there are children. Some have children that all have different sleep personalities, and that is probably the most challenging aspect of both parenting and sleep. Some have babies that will catnap all day long, just as long as they are touching their mama. Some have babies that don't nap at all even at 6 months old. Some have babies that awake every hour or two throughout the night. Some babies love to snuggle and nurse to sleep. Some like being rocked or swayed. Some like to just be put down and left alone. The other thing I have learned is that some need more sleep and some need less.

The most important lesson I have learned about sleep from my boys is to do what works for them rather than what I thought I would do before they were born.

I have a feeling this is going to be a lesson I learn over and over again throughout this parenting adventure.

This post is linked up with

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Wise Woman Builds Her Home

I've joined in with a link up over at A Wise Woman Builds Her Home


Why not drop by and link up too, or find some encouragement from a new blog or two.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Heart of the Home

In my life I have so many identities and roles. I'm a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend. Each of these have a wonderful and welcome place in my life. Yet above all of these I am also the heartbeat of my home. I set the atmosphere within the walls of our family sanctuary. I decide if this is a place of welcome or a place to be avoided. I am responsible for the pace of life day by day.

Realtors/Estate Agents know that to sell a home to a family they have to market to the wife/mother. They will tell you that the single most important room for this is the kitchen. The woman has to see herself comfortable in the kitchen. Once that is done the house will sell itself. Why is this? It is because deep down as women we know that we are the heartbeat of our homes and we like to beat in the heart of the home, the kitchen.

I know for me, in all the different homes I've lived in over the years, I have always gravitated towards the kitchen. I love being in the kitchen and being busy. I love to bake and cook. I love to organize and plan from the kitchen. It is where I am usually to be found if the children are sleeping. I love the rest of my home too. But I always come back to the warmth and vitality of the kitchen.

At present we have a small table in our kitchen that I use as an extra work surface. It has become my baking station. I have a baker's rack against the wall near this table that holds most of my baking supplies, so it is a natural place to mix together something wonderful. It is also the only real heat proof surface in the kitchen, so it is also the place where hot tins fresh from the oven are placed before the contents are removed. Already this morning I have completed 3 loaves of bread and a batch of cookies. A loaf of banana bread is currently in the oven. This afternoon I plan on making some apple turnovers to use up the last of our organic apples before they get too old. I can't think of a nicer smell than fresh baked food.

My love of the kitchen extends to my collecting instincts. I love to collect small kitchen gadgets. I love to find those wonderful little curiosities that make the life of a cook or baker so much easier. From the measuring spoons that go down to a pinch and a dash, to the scone cutter and flower petal maker. For Christmas my wonderful husband even surprised me with a few new ones in my stocking, including a chocolate mold and a new cookie cutter.

I remember with great fondness the wonderful aromas of my childhood home. We did not have shop bought cookies/biscuits in our home very often. Instead we always had fresh baked cake available. In the winter there was usually a very large pot of home made soup on the stove. My brother and I were the most popular children in our respective classes at school when we turned up with cake. Mum would give us two slices of cake instead of candy or chips/crisps for the morning break time. We would half one slice and swap it for a candy bar or a bag of chips/crisps. Mum thought she was helping us to healthier having home baked treats. We on the other hand had a captive market amongst children who never had home baked in their homes. The other children craved the cake we had, not just because it tasted good (and it tasted so wonderful we always kept a slice for ourselves) but because of the love that went into making it.

Knowing that I am the heartbeat of my home I want my children to have the kinds of lasting memories I had growing up. While they may not have the daily or even weekly visits with extended family, they can have the wonderful treats that feed their souls as well as their bellies. I can fill our home with the sweet smell of food prepared in love, or I can fill it with the foul aroma of convenience that says there are more important things than them. I can be the agent of peace and love that makes our home a welcoming place to all who enter, or I can busy around keeping it so perfect that nobody feel comfortable to spend time here. I can embrace my role as the heartbeat of my home, or I can let my home fall into ruin.

I love that I get to choose my response to my role in our family. I only have myself to blame if I get it wrong. I am glad to choose to stay at home every day, and make our home a wonderful to stay in. The memories my children take with them from here can be wonderful, filled with the sweet aroma of foods prepared by loving hands, only if my hands are filled with love while they work.

A wise woman once told me that no matter what happens in life my reaction is my choice. Now that I get to stay home every day this is still true. I could choose to be discontent and want to be out somewhere, anywhere on any given day. I could disregard the needs of my children and be busy out and about doing things outside the home with them. I could even choose to find employment and put them in daycare so we could have more things or travel to more places. Instead I choose to stay home. I choose to plan around nap times, diaper/nappy changes, snack and meal needs, nursing, cleaning, cooking, baking, and occasionally writing. This is being a heartbeat, a steady constant rhythm that keeps our lives moving along, slowly, carefully and at peace.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A New Church Home

Last October/November we moved into our current home. It is a very well laid out townhouse that will give us plenty of space for our family no matter how large the Lord decides to make it. The size however was not our biggest reason for moving. This house is less than a ten minute drive from Rob's place of work. It frees up an extra hour a day on work days for Rob to spend with the boys. This is proving to be a huge blessing for us.

This move had only one down side. It made attending our Church very difficult. The journey on a Sunday morning was now forty five minutes each way. Rob was still teaching Sunday School, so we would have to leave about 9am and would not get home until nearly 1:30pm. This may not be a big deal for some, but for our boys it was. Seth was only two months old, and still sleeping most of the time. He did not take to having to sleep on the go. (Even now at six months old he likes to be in his own bed to sleep.) Even Aiden was beginning to have a difficult time with going all morning and into the afternoon without a nap. So Rob decided to give up teaching Sunday School and we would try just attending one of the two morning services.

Then we went to the Christmas Eve service with the boys. We thought we might have issues because they are not usually out in the evenings. My boys like to go to bed when it starts to get dark (like their daddy) and the service didn't start until 5pm. We did end up leaving before the service was over. We tried everything we could to keep Seth calm, but even after changing his diaper/nappy and nursing him he was still unhappy and let us know all about it. He was tired and he wanted to go to sleep in his own bed, not in my arms. So we got the boys into the car and drove home. By the time we got home forty five minutes later Seth was so beyond over tired that he would not be consoled and he would not go to sleep. Rob was left to see to Aiden, unpack the car and start getting ready for Christmas morning on his own while I tried everything we could think of to try and calm Seth enough to fall asleep.

I spent over two hours rocking, walking, swaying, singing, swaddling, nursing, and everything else that might even bring just a moment of calm. Finally he passed out from sheer exhaustion. As I joined Rob back downstairs to finish preparing for the morning we talked, and talked, and talked about what had just happened. The only conclusion we came to was that we could never put Seth through that again and changed our plans about attending Christmas morning services. We decided I would stay home with Seth on Sunday mornings until he was old enough to deal with going to Church again.

Over the next couple of weeks Rob struggled through taking Aiden to Church by himself. Aiden missed having his Mama around. He missed his "Bubba" too. So we tried having Rob go to Church on his own. After the first week of that Rob knew it wasn't right for him to go to Church without the rest of his family. We needed a better solution. We talked and prayed and talked and prayed together some more. We asked the Lord to show us where to go if He was moving us to a closer Church. That Saturday we drove by a sign across the street from our neighborhood. It was advertising church services in a school on a small strip mall. There was a website address included. So after we came home we wrote down the website to check out after the boys were asleep.

We continued to pray for another few weeks. This was a big decision and one we were not going to rush. Rob continued to go to Church alone. I continued to stay home with the boys and tried very hard to not feel isolated. Church had always been my one time of the week to speak to other people face to face, so staying home seven days a week was not easy. Rob was the only adult I had proper conversations with.

After a few weeks of listening to sermons on the website and continuing to seek the Lord we decided to email the Pastor and ask to meet with him to find out more about the Church. We met at our local doughnut shop on the Saturday morning, then visited the Church on the Sunday morning. We liked everything we found out and saw at Church. We went back a second time the following week before finally making the decision to transfer our membership to this new Church home that the Lord had led us to.

We are sad to leave behind so many wonderful friends in our old Church home, but we are still close enough to drop by for special events and to keep up the friendships out of Church. At the same time we are excited to be a part of this new family of believers. Our new Church is indeed a new Church. They have been meeting for just over a year, and are still small in number. We meet in the cafeteria of a private school. It is the most integrated Church I've encountered. The children are part of the main service. They worship together with their families. There is a room set aside for very small children to go and play if needed, but it is very much optional. The cultural diversity is about the same as the actual diversity of the surrounding area. I'm not the only one going through the immigrant experience of raising a family far away from my extended family, as there are several other immigrant families in Church too. The Pastor and his wife have been married about the same amount of time as we have, and with a very similar love story to us too. They also have a daughter who is only four days older than Aiden. The two children were actually born on each others due date. They are already firm friends too which is so nice to see.

We are excited to be a part of the work the Lord is doing in our new community. We are excited to see what the Lord can do through our new Church home and the new friendships that are developing there. I'm personally excited to be walking distance from Church, and to have new friends that live within walking distance too.

Have a great weekend, and may the Lord bless you as you meet together with other believers this coming Lord's Day.

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Baby Mordecai

Our blessed first baby, Mordecai, gone to heaven on July 23, 2009 at 13 weeks gestation.

You will never be forgotten by us.